Scammers are utilizing advanced artificial intelligence (AI) technology to execute a kidnapping scam targeting local parents of students.
These scammers employ various tactics, including mimicking the voices of distressed family members and incorporating specific background noises, including children’s voices, in order to deceive unsuspecting victims.
The scam has affected parents of both young children and college students, including OSU football players, resulting in significant financial losses and emotional distress.
Several Oregon parents recently shared their experiences with KGW, shedding light on the manipulative strategies employed by these scammers.
Steve Padilla, from the rental school district, issued a warning, stating that scammers have been contacting parents, falsely claiming to have kidnapped their children.
The scammers demand ransom payments through cash, mobile apps, or wire transfers.
To further manipulate parents, the scammers use AI technology to replicate the sound of children, creating a convincing illusion that the victim’s child is in danger.
Padilla emphasized the traumatic impact such scams can have on parents, as they are forced to grapple with the distressing possibility that their child may be in real danger.
He urged caution and vigilance, advising parents to be wary of any such calls and to verify their child’s location independently before taking any action.
The scammers are specifically targeting families with children in middle and grade school, with most victims in Padilla’s district being Spanish-speaking families.
However, other districts, such as Reynolds, Centennial Parkrose, Gresham, and Barlow schools, have also reported similar scam attempts.
The extent of the scam’s reach became evident when Gary Overman, the father of Oregon State tight end Jake Overman, recounted his encounter with scammers.
Gary received a call from someone claiming to be an OSU campus police official, alleging that Jake was in custody for public intoxication.
The scammer demanded a substantial sum of money to keep the incident confidential and prevent involving the state police.
Fortunately, Jake was at home with his family during the call, rendering the scammer’s claims baseless.
Even university officials have acknowledged the severity of the issue, as scammers targeted the families of five OSU football players.
To combat this growing problem, school officials have urged coaches to inform athletes and encourage them to warn their parents about the scam.
Law enforcement faces challenges in tracking down these scammers, as they frequently operate from outside the country.
Police advise individuals who receive such calls to remain calm and not succumb to the scammers’ demands.
Instead, they should independently verify their child’s safety and location.
It is crucial to spread awareness about this scam’s various forms and personalize them to target victims.
Increasing awareness is a vital step in thwarting these fraudulent schemes.
In conclusion, scammers utilizing AI technology have devised a kidnapping scam that preys on the fears of local parents.
By imitating the voices of distressed family members, including children, and incorporating specific background noises, scammers aim to deceive and extort money from their victims.
Parents are urged to exercise caution, independently verify their child’s safety, and remain vigilant against such fraudulent calls.